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In Russia, murder, harassment of activists continues

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MOSCOW – Russian human rights activists are mourning one of their own for the second time in barely a week, adding to mounting evidence that President Dmitri Medvedev's promise to establish rule of law and a more liberal social climate was largely campaign rhetoric: The list of human rights activists murdered or arrested since his inauguration has swelled.

Andrei Kulagin, the head of the Karelia branch of the civil rights group Spravedlivost, which means "Justice," went missing two months ago after being summoned to a meeting with unidentified persons in the regional capital of Petrozavodsk, near Russia's border with Finland. His body was recently found in a local quarry and his colleagues announced Thursday that he had been murdered.

"Human rights activists are the exposed nerves of civil society," reads a statement posted on the group's Russian-language website. "They are sharply responsive to injustices and are often at the forefront of the fight for other peoples' rights. Unfortunately, Andrei is not the first human rights activist to pay with his life for speaking the truth," it said.

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